A Third Year of Buying Grassfed

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Last week Scott picked up our annual beef purchase. We started buying a quarter of a cow three years ago (talked about here in 2010) from a local producer, Beltane Ranch and we haven’t looked back since. At first we started doing this for the health benefits but over the years we’ve found a number of reasons why this makes sense for our family:

•  Buying beef in this way, we know our money goes to three sets of local people, the folks at Beltane Ranch, the butcher, and the meat market. Our money stays in Sonoma, which, because we vote with our dollars, is important to us.

•  We always have dinner on hand. Now that we’ve moved out of town, this is even more important for our busy family. A quick walk through in the veggie garden and a shopping trip in the freezer almost always gives us a dinner. Our quick, last minute dinner now is almost always hamburgers, which are significantly better than any hamburger you can get in a restaurant.

• We eat like kings. All this beef is dry aged for over 20 days. Doing that lets excess water evaporate and increases the tenderness and flavor. You can’t buy dry aged hamburger in the store and to buy dry aged grass fed steaks in the store, for two adults, would cost around $50. We eat them for around $5/lb. and they honestly are delicious (that comes from someone who has never been a big red meat eater). We taste the difference easily now, going to restaurants or parties the difference between our Beltane beef and feedlot beef.

•  We are more creative cooks. We get a little bit of everything in this order so along with steaks and stew meat and hamburger come bones, shanks, and the entire range of steaks. Scott has now mastered the cooking of all the cuts of meat and I know that then I see beef shanks go in the slow cooker, bones simmering on the stove, or a package of ‘T-bone’ steaks thawing on the counter (my favorite cut of steak), dinner is going to be good. We’ve also learned how important it is to raise the temperature of beef up to room temperature before you cook it. Cold beef hitting the grill or stove top results in livery tasting meat. Cooking with room temperature meat completely improves the flavor.

•  It really is much healthier. “Grass-fed meat, milk, and eggs contain less total fat and less saturated fats than the same foods from grain-fed animals. Pastured animals also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that some recent studies indicate may help reduce weight and prevent cancer, and which is absent from feedlot animals. But perhaps most important, meat, eggs, and milk from pastured animals also contain higher levels of omega-3s, essential fatty acids created in the cells of green plants and algae that play an indispensable roll in human health, and especially in the growth and health of neurons–brain cells.” -Michael Pollen. Grass fed beef also contains much higher levels of Vitamin E and beta carotene. If we are to be committed meat eaters, we are happy to do so in a healthier way.

You too can eat grass fed if you aren’t already. Check out Eat Wild to find local grass fed farmers in your area. And if you are in Sonoma, Beltane Ranch beef is served at Breakaway Café and you can buy it by the pound at Sonoma Market.
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16 Comments

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16 responses to “A Third Year of Buying Grassfed

  1. Your link to Eat Wild is a great reference. I’m now planning a fun weekend in Parkfield, CA at the V6 Ranch.

  2. I love this Idea and iv never had aged hamburger its something i am adding in my todo list

  3. I can’t find any place near my house for grass fed beef. However, I have found grass fed bison and lamb. Therefore, we hardly ever eat hamburgers, but we do eat bison burgers. Yummy.

  4. Bob

    Thanks for the Eat Wild link! That was incredibly helpful!

  5. muralmommy23

    We raised our own cows and butchered two, one-year old longhorn/brahma cross calves last year. We too have been eating like kings. There is nothing like totally organic, grass fed beef. I also love the idea of being able to provide for my family off of our land whether it be from the garden, the chicken coop or the pasture. When I got to the freezer or the garden, my husband asks if I’m “going shopping”.

    I’ve just started raising Nubian goats and should have our first kidding in the spring. I can’t wait to start milking and then be able to make all sorts of goodies with fresh milk.

  6. I keep thinking that I ought to try this, and then I remember how often my power goes out in the winter. How would you manage that kind of issue?

    • asonomagarden

      Jen, I’ve heard of people buying generators to keep on hand for that sort of thing. Think of it as insurance against your investment!

      • I too have a generator for just this purpose.. I dont mind being without electricity for a day or two, but losing my freezer full of meat & veggies would be disastrous.

    • You might also consider canning some of your meat. I’ve canned chunks of beef and its heavenly. Though I’ve never done so, I’ve heard others say they’ve canned their hamburger, but most dont like the texture of it afterwards.

  7. Oh, good reminder! I’ve been thinking about getting in on a cow share for a while.

    I just joined the SeaSA folks — a CSA for seafood. But I’ve just been buying my meat at Willowside. I think their meat comes from J Brand, in Healdsburg. But we have a freezer, and having a share would be a better idea.

  8. Marie

    Hi Kendra~ sounds yummy! We’re going to do that one of these days – I love all your reasons. Hope you guys are having a lovely summer!

  9. Tiffany

    Wow, thanks for this! I wanted to try to do this. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a bit longer before I can. I’m going to start next year. When I have my garden and hopefully can buy a bigger freezer.

  10. Great Post! I was spoiled growing up on a farm my entire life. I never once ate store bought beef and besides being a little thick around the middle I am better off for it. I live over 1000 miles away from home in the desert now and I ran out of beef from home! Out of desperation I tried store bought ground beef. I can’t believe the difference. I couldn’t eat the stuff. I can’t wait to butcher another cow when I visit home. Also, I can’t agree more about the aging. We have tried it both ways and processing ground beef fresh leaves an irony blood taste kinda like blood sausage. Age all the way! My family does a lot of smoking, jerky, and sausage making as well. I am going to check out these books and hopefully learn to do it myself. http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Butchering-Smoking-Curing-Sausage/dp/0760337829/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1344452627&sr=8-10&keywords=charcuterie and http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Salting-Smoking-Curing-ebook/dp/B005LW5JCG/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1344452627&sr=8-15&keywords=charcuterie

  11. Katrina

    So sad! I contacted Beltane Ranch to order a quarter cow- turns out increasing regulations have made it too difficult for them to continue selling quarters for private customers.

    Any other local sources you’d recommend? I’ll have to check out Eat Wild…

    • asonomagarden

      Katrina, we had to switch too this year :( We went with Chileano Valley Ranch. We just got our beef two weeks ago, but so far are happy with it.

  12. Pingback: Visiting Chileno Valley Ranch | A Sonoma Garden

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